The Cost of InclusionHow Student Conformity Leads to Inequality on College Campuses

The Cost of InclusionHow Student Conformity Leads to Inequality on College Campuses

Blake R. Silver

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9780226703862

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Young people are told that college is a place where they will “make friendships that will last a lifetime.” What happens when students arrive on campus and enter a new social world? The Cost of Inclusion delves into this rich moment to explore the ways young people seek out inclusion and its emotive counterpart, a sense of belonging. To illuminate the college social scene, Blake R. Silver spent a year immersed in student life at a large public university. Silver paired ethnographic observation with in-depth interviews with first-year college students in order to understand how individuals searched for and frequently failed to find inclusion in the social realm of higher education. Students sought diverse extracurricular groups where they could connect with others from a variety of backgrounds. However, as many soon realized, finding a sense of belonging in these settings often came at a cost. To be included, students encountered pressure to conform to racist and sexist stereotypes. This book examines how culture shapes identity and self-presentation, generating inequality at the intersections of race and gender. Silver argues that a laissez faire approach to the extracurriculum is undermining student success and marginalizing women and racial/ethnic minority students on campus. Opportunities for colleges and universities to address these disparities are explored.